May 05, 2004

Joseph wins fiction writing competition

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- In a departure from her usual genre, poet Allison E. Joseph, associate professor of English at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has won the fiction prize in an annual writing contest sponsored by the Ohio Valley Literary Group and the English department at Marietta College in Belpre, Ohio.

She will receive $50 for her short story, "Tabernacle," which will appear in this year's Confluence, an annual literary magazine produced by the two groups.

"I love writing fiction because no one expects me to be good at it," said Joseph, who last year alone won six writing awards for poetry.

"I have actually been writing fiction all during my time at SIUC but was afraid to come out of the closet! It's intimidating when you work with such wonderful fiction writers as Beth Lordan (whose novel in stories, "But Come Ye Back," appeared this year) and Mike Magnuson (author of "Lummox: The Evolution of a Man," 2002) -- people who really know what they are doing."

Set in New York, where Joseph grew up, her prize-winning story focuses on a girl whose dying mother forsakes her old church for a storefront tabernacle.

"It's akin to my growing-up experience, but I hope it's not just thinly disguised autobiography," she said.

Joseph joined SIUC's creative writing faculty in 1994. She earned her bachelor's degree from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1988 and her master's in fine arts from Indiana University in 1992.

Leading in research, scholarly and creative activities is among the goals of Southern@150, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.